Friday, February 23, 2007

Ripped From the Headlines!

In one of my recent posts on The Digital Napkin I posted the following comment: "How many times have you had an idea that you thought was unique just to see something similar to it in a store or advertised somewhere? It happens to me frequently and I feel a short moment of pride that I had an idea that would have worked. The reality is, ideas are like oxygen they are just out there floating around."

Well, I was watching TV tonight and I saw the new Law & Order. This weeks episode is called "MURDER BOOK - A HIGH PROFILE PUBLISHER IS FOUND MURDERED - When a publisher is found murdered, after publishing a controversial book, Detectives Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) and Nina Cassady (Milena Govich) are determined to find out whether this was a random homicide or connected to her work.

If you saw the show on Friday night please read my post from November and see how similar my idea is to the episode that aired. I don't believe anyone associated with the show ever read my post. I just feel proud that my idea was good enough to make it onto the small screen. "The reality is, ideas are like oxygen they are just out there floating around." and that is what The Digital Napkin is all about.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What will MySpace 2.0 Look Like?

I originally posted this at My Blog Utopia but felt it deserved some exposure here on The Digital Napkin.

The Internet may be crossing over into Web 3.0 soon but MySpace is still in version 1.0. So, what do you think MySpace 2.0 will look like?

Here's what I think: (Some of this is wishful thinking)

  • MySpace 2.0 will no longer be considered the Teen Hang-out exclusively! A growing number of older members will begin to use the platform (this is already happening). This may cause the fickle Teen set to flee to another hot site so MySpace will need to find ways to keep them. My suggestion! Let them make some money. They already refer, suggest and reccomend products, bands, songs, etc for free. Why not let them get paid to do that.
    MySpace will become an ecommerce site allowing trading between members. This system will be facilitated by eBay, Google or a system developed by MySpace. My suggestion is the creation of a separate site called MySpace Shops that links to each sellers profile. If FIM ends up working with eBay the solution would be to add a shopping cart to eBay's Stores platform and port that over to a new site. Shazam! You now have MySpace Shops. This of course would benefit eBay Store Sellers greatly. I don't like the idea of expanding eBay's grip on ecommerce and would much prefer that MySpace develop its own platform to compete but I am realistic. If FIM doesn't want to develop its own system I would hope that Google would get serious about developing its own Stores platform.
  • PayPal will most likely become the payment method of choice unless Google checkout can add account functionality.
  • MySpace will start to offer Pro versions of their profiles for members who want to expand their MySpace presence. The pro versions will include multiple pages and allow members to make money through MySpace’s new affiliate, advertising and Shops offerings.

Well, there are a couple of my ideas. What do you think MySpace 2.0 will look like?

Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Avoid the Next Dot-Com Flop

As I was checking my Google Reader for interesting articles today I came across this one from The Street: How to Avoid the Next Dot-Com Flop It is a nice article about a new start-up but what stuck out to me was one section: (I added the bold type)

... one of the first mistakes Simmons and Stoppelman made was to assume their idea was original. Therefore, they were very secretive about it. "If you think you have an idea that's unique, you probably don't," Stoppelman points out.

"If the idea hasn't been built upon yet, there are probably a couple of other people out there that have the same faculties and abilities to try and pursue it that you do."

"We weren't open to much criticism because we weren't telling anyone what the idea was," he continues.

And sure enough, when Yelp launched, there were a number of competitors with very similar ideas.

"My advice there [is] don't worry about people finding out about your idea or spend a lot of time trying to keep it super-secret," Stoppelman says. "Just go out and get the feedback as soon as you can ... and get ready for mass amounts of [fine-] tuning."

Feedback in general is always useful, and certainly the earlier you receive it, the better, Stoppelman believes.

How many times have you had an idea that you thought was unique just to see something similar to it in a store or advertised somewhere? It happens to me frequently and I feel a short moment of pride that I had an idea that would have worked. The reality is, ideas are like oxygen they are just out there floating around (I'm not sure oxygen floats but you get my point). An idea is worthless if it's stuck in your head or left on a paper napkin. The ideas that change the world or possibly a person's bank account are the ones that are pursued, and rarely do they look the same as when they were first envisioned.

That is really the point of this blog. Once my readership grows and I start to get comments on the ideas I've posted here and hopefully readers submit their own ideas, this blog will serve as a feedback incubator for those ideas. Often, the idea originator doesn't have the resources or experience to implement the idea on their own but they certainly do have the vision. As Mr. Stoppleman said "Just go out and get the feedback as soon as you can ... and get ready for mass amounts of [fine-] tuning."

I really want this blog to serve as an open forum for ideas with contributions and feedback from many people, so I am going to be opening up The Digital Napkin to other contributors. If you have an idea that has some protection in the real world (copyright, trademark, patent, etc.) then please contact me so I can post it here and solicit feedback from my readers.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Great Idea for eBay Sellers!

I came across a neat little widget at that is great for eBay sellers. I've placed it at the bottom of this blog. I'm calling it the Seller Showcase. It's a tool to help promote a sellers product from their blog or MySpace profile. I will be featuring a different seller each month. So if you are an eBay veteran check it out, maybe you will see something new and if you are a Newbie, nows the time to start your eBay experience.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How to Monetize Your Blog! - Idea #1

I figured rather than writing a long boring treatise on “How to Monetize Your Blog” I would come up with a series of posts on how to make money from these things. Some of these ideas are new and have not been tested, some have been moderately successful and some have worked well for me.

Today's Idea: (Under the Classification – New and Untested)

I've spent a great deal of time trying to design my blogs to be visually appealing and easy to read, hoping to increase return visits but I’m not doing this more my health – well actually, I do blog to maintain my mental health – I also want to make some money from this effort so I spend additional time placing Google AdSense ads and my Affiliate links in high visibility areas hoping to increase click-thru rates. There is a delicate balance between writing an informative and interesting blog and creating an online ad.

I recently realized there was a hole in my advertising approach. Many of my readers subscribe to my RSS feed and read my posts from their reader application rather than visiting the blog directly. Because of this I wasn’t exposing them to my advertising and affiliate links. I was getting readers to my posts but there was no means to monetize the traffic. I subscribe to roughly 20 blogs and rarely revisit the blog after I have subscribed; my guess is many readers do the same thing. So, I came up with a fairly unobtrusive idea to get my advertisers in front of these RSS subscribers.

I’ve begun to add text links to my affiliates at the bottom of each post. These links show-up in each RSS posts and provide exposure for my affiliates. I try and make the link germane to the topic discussed hopefully increasing the likelihood that a reader will click-thru. Sometimes, I just send them to a specific book or other resource that might be of value.

Okay, now for the test: If you use an RSS reader (like Google Reader) to review recent posts from your favorite blogs make sure and subscribe to The Digital Napkin’s RSS feed to see how this works.

Today’s Link is for bloggers who want to start their own email newsletter:

Send an email newsletter like this one in minutes!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Now For Some Bad Ideas!

When I came up with the concept for this blog I was most interested in celebrating good ideas I found on the web as well as expressing some of my own. A good idea just sitting in your brain or in a notepad on your dresser doesn't accomplish much. As I've fleshed out the concept I've also become aware of a great many ideas out there that, how can I put this nicely, suck! So occasionally I will comment on those ideas, not to celebrate them but to should them down and hopefully make them go away.

Here are a couple to get us started:

Here are some responses to the stories above:

It seems most of the bad ideas come from politicians! If I find a good idea from one of them I'll make sure and point it out.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Music for my Blog!

I like to listen to music while I surf the web and read my favorite blogs and I have found that I really enjoy listening to new and different artists, “not my regular cup of tea” as they say. They say (I’m not sure who they are...) that variety is the spice of life and part of the appeal of blogging, to me, is reading someone else’s perspective on life and issues and that often includes their choices in music and entertainment. One of the best features of MySpace is their audio player where you get to hear a song that the writer of that profile finds interesting. This audio player has had a major impact on the independent music scene by introducing new acts to the MySpace set.

I've been scouring the web to find a player for my blog that will allow me to share some of my favorite tunes with my readers but also provide more flexibility than the MySpace player allowed. Well, I think I found it! I came across (where do they come up with these names). This player allows me to put together play lists for my readers but also gives them the flexibility of searching the web for their favorite tunes, if they don't like what I provide.

My goal is to pick tunes I feel speak to the subject of that particular blog, or are just songs I like and increase the stickiness of the blog. Since I come across very few blogs that have this capability I often load my MySpace profile in the morning and play my tunes while I surf.

I’ve added the Dizzler player to The Digital Napkin. It is at the bottom of the page. To hear my selections just click on the playlist or search the web for your favorite tunes.

Take a look and listen. It might be something you want to add to your blog.

49th Grammy Award Winners

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Using the Amazon aStore to Make Cash!

Amazon has developed a wonderful new application for their Associate program (affiliate program to the rest of the world). They call it the aStore, a fully functioning ecommerce website. I actually used something similar to this in the late 90's called the VStore and it is a great way to generate incremental income.

You need to join the Amazon Associate Program to have access to this great money making tool. Referral fees start at 4% and can go all the way to 8.5%. In my case within 2 days of opening my store I hade earned $6.25 It doesn't sound like much but my AdSense account took nearly a month to generate $8.25

For the blogging community, it is a great way to introduce your readers to products that you think they will be most interested in. I created then Blog Utopia Store. I chose the products I thought would be best suited to my audience. There is no need to overwhelm the reader with the entire product breadth of Amazon, just take a little time to merchandise to your specific crowd.

Remember, in order to generate money on the web you still need to have a sizable audience, so continue your marketing efforts to bring in new readers. If you set your profit expectations at the low end even $6.25 is cause for celebration.

A few tips once you get started:

  • If you currently purchase items from Amazon but don’t have a store for yourself, make sure and buy your next item from one of your friends in the MyBlogLog community. You will still get the great deals offered by Amazon and your friend will make a little cash too.
  • Once you open your aStore make sure and tell your friends and family about it. Why would they start their product search on Amazon directly if they new you could benefit from their purchase?
  • Link your blog to your aStore so that regular readers can make purchases through your store.

I will update you on how my store is doing as I move forward, you might want to make your next Amazon purchase through one of my stores (thanks in advance) to see how it works and then get started on your own store.

Best Selling Games at

Friday, February 02, 2007

Interesting Ideas I've Found as I Search the Web!

Some of the ideas I will add to this regular post are good, some are bad and some are just plain interesting. Why don't you take a look and contribute your 2 cents. Or as they say on eBay "your 5 cents" (Inside joke for eBay store sellers) Today's group are very good in my opinion.

Here's an interesting idea about the new IPhone and Cingular relationship that I found by Joy at This is a great suggestions and Cingular should look at it very carefully

An new way of looking at an old literature staple. The novel for the clip generation. (299 words each. Any more is a waste) One suggestion for David B. Dale the author: Come up with an audio version for this and you have a hit. (Think Mobile, etc.)

And here's one I have implemented The Blidget (You guessed it a combination blog and widget) Just choose the button on the left sidebar once you get to the site. Also check-out how I use it on my MySpace profile

Friday Night Lights Pilot Episode - Free on iTunes